How to Plan a Team Building Event: A Simple Guide

This time we’re going back to the basics! In this complete guide to team building, we’re going to give you all the advice we have about planning and executing a team building event, including how to choose the right event logistics, scheduling and more! 

Planning your event 

1. Set the timeline  

This might seem obvious, but set an approximate date and start planning your event as early as possible. This will make planning much easier and smoother. Of course, how far in advance you start depends on the size and type of event. For a typical team celebration outing for under 100 members, we suggest planning 4~6 before the event. For a retreat or special event for over 100 people, you will need to start planning 4 months in advance.

If you’re short on time and pressed to find an event, online team building might be your best option. It’s very simple to plan and doesn’t require a lot of logistics or finding venues. Contact Invite Japan and we’ll do our best to make it work, even if your event is coming up soon.

2. Create a task list  

Creating a task list will help you stay organized and on top of everything you have to do to get ready for the event. You can create a list in Excel or Google sheets, or use a template, like a GANTT chart that you can refer to and that explains what’s going on clearly.

3. Get your team involved

There’s a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning team building events. So a great way to make the whole process go more smoothly is to invite your team to participate in planning and organizing the event. This has the added benefit of aligning your team building event with the rest of the team, and getting everyone on the same page and working together. The whole point is to strengthen your team, after all. 

So consider yourself the head coordinator rather than the sole organizer. And turn the planning of your event into an added lesson in team building by getting your team in on the action. 

4. Determine your goals 

In order for your team building event to be effective, you need to make your goals for the program clear and defined. This will ensure that your event fits your team’s needs, and also that team members enjoy themselves while participating in it. To make this process easier, we suggest using the “5Ws” method. Ask yourself the following questions about your event:

Who? When? Where? What? Why? 

(Example) Our sales team of 45 people did really well this quarter. So we want to do an event in New York City, where they can have fun and so that we can show our appreciation for their hard work

5. Make a list of participants

You can use the following questions to help give you a clearer picture of your list of participants for your team building event. 

  • Participation: Can anyone participate, or only a specific team? Is participation mandatory or can people choose whether or not they want to participate?
  • Capacity: What’s the maximum number of people that can join, given your budget and venue? 
  • Are there participants who will require any special accommodations?
  • Will you include remote team members? If so, can they join remotely or do you want them to participate in-person?

6.  Create a detailed budget

With your superiors and/or whoever is in charge of accounting, figure out how much money you have to spend on your event. Be as realistic as possible, and leave a little extra room for unexpected items. 

Here are the items that you should make sure to include in your budget:

  • Transportation, parking and hotel fees.
  • Deposits for event locations and venues.
  • If you’re contracting externally, event planner fees.
  • Food or meal expenses. 
  • Insurance fees.
  • Costs for souvenirs. 

7. Decide the date and time of your event

Things can get busy pretty fast, and people’s schedules can fill up quickly. That’s why it’s important to figure out a good date and time for your event as soon as possible. This becomes easier when you figure out who the participants are, and who the major stakeholders in the event are (who stands to benefit the most). 

Depending on the activity that you choose, you could also split up your team and schedule multiple time or date slots, if your team’s schedules don’t line up. 

8. Select a location/venue for the event

Here are a few questions to help you decide which venue is right for your team building event:

  • How many people can the venue hold?
  • Does the venue provide internet access? Is audio-visual equipment available for use?
  • Does the venue allow you to bring in or set up equipment or materials before the event?
  • If the event is outdoors, do you need any special permission?
  • Is there parking available nearby in the case where team members use their cars or you hire a bus?
  • Will the weather affect the event?

9. Create a logistics checklist

Once you have the main elements of your event in place, it’s best to make a logistics checklist. This will ensure that any important logistical issues don’t fall through the cracks.

  • Transportation: How is everyone getting to the event? Will transportation be provided or is everyone responsible for getting there on their own?
  • Food and beverages: Are any meals or snacks going to be included in the event? If they are, will they be provided by the company?
  • Consent Agreement: Will participants need to sign a consent agreement for the activities?
  • Hotels: Will your event require people to stay overnight somewhere?
  • What to bring: What do participants need to bring with them for the event or prepare beforehand (e.g. raincoats, water bottles, etc.)  
  • Extra accommodations: Will you need to provide extra support for team members with disabilities or injuries?

10. Choose your activity

There are a wide variety of team building activities out there today, and we at Invite Japan have a few of our own that we will recommend in just a bit. However, first you should consider the points below before making any decision:

  • Budget: Your budget will really determine what your team can and can’t do. That’s why it’s important to come with a realistic budget, as we mentioned earlier. Do the best with what you have, and remember that the most expensive activities are not always the best.
  • Date and time: What time of year your event is will influence whether you want to do an indoor or outdoor activity. Similarly, different times of day might be better suited for certain activities over others.
  • Goal: What do you want your team members to get out of this event? If you have a clearly defined main goal, then you should be able to find a suitable activity that helps achieve it, and that fits your team’s needs. For example, you might want to have discussion sessions, or an awards ceremony, or an educational lecture.

So once you have thought about these questions, it’s time to select your activity. Here is the main lineup that we offer at Invite Japan.

Online Team Building Event 

90 min./~¥6,600 per person

If you need an event that is easy to plan, this one’s for you. All participants need is an internet connection, and they can join from anywhere in the world at the same time (which makes it perfect for international teams and conferences).  Since there’s no need for a venue, large teams can also participate easily.

We have two games: Tabitantei is a magical journey around Japan, while Secret Agent: The First Mission is an international spy adventure. Both of these games are based around online puzzles, and are designed for remote and hybrid teams looking to increase team unity and communication.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt (Hidden Secrets Journey) Event

About 3 hrs./ ~¥9,500 per person

This is a great activity for teams looking to do an off-site event or something outside. Teams go around certain areas of Tokyo or Yokohama looking for clues to solve a series of puzzles. These clues are found on monuments, buildings, and other sights. In this way, teams get to explore new places, work together, and have a chance to get to know each other better. 

Hidden Secrets Journey is a very popular activity, especially during times of the year with nicer weather. But we’ve had teams enjoy this game even during the rain and cold. As of right now we have scavenger hunt games available for Asakusa, Nihonbashi, and Yokohama. 

Dispatch Team Building (Suitcase Mystery) Event

The concept for Suitcase Mystery is a series of puzzles and challenges are contained within one suitcase. Filled with strange objects and curious items, this game gets teams talking and laughing immediately. 

And because it can travel anywhere easily, Suitcase Mystery can be played in your office, or any  rental space or conference hall that you choose. This makes it another great option for organizers who are worried about logistics and planning. Everything comes to you, and set-up and take-down take five minutes each at most.

11. Determine the plan for the day (create an agenda)

After confirming all the details so far, you should come up with a plan and schedule for the day of your event. This should include what time participants should arrive at the venue, the start time of the activity, the address of the venue, where participants will meet, etc. Make sure you create the agenda a few weeks before the event, so that you can pass it around to all the participants. 

12. Get your team excited

Unfortunately this is something that a lot of event organizers tend to overlook. You’ve planned a great event for your team, so you need to play it up and get them motivated to participate. 

This should involve a bit of PR and creativity. Use emails, fliers or text messages. Mention it at meetings. And try to communicate important information about the event while giving it an air of mystery to entice team members.

Event follow-up

Your event succeeded without a hitch and everything went according to plan. You may be satisfied with how it went, but there’s still more to do if you want to get the most out of it. This is where follow-up comes in, and it can be just as important as the event itself.

13. Distribute souvenirs or momentos

Show some appreciation to participants by giving them little prizes or momentos after the event. These don’t have to be anything too expensive, what’s important is that they relate to the event and give participants a little fun reminder of the experiences they had together. This could include pictures that you took, little chocolates or energy bars, or even t-shirts.

14. Collect feedback 

The most effective thing you can do after the event is collect feedback. You want to know how participants felt about the event and the activities that they did, so that you can find out what worked well and continue to plan better events for them in the future.

Did participants have fun? What did they learn? Would they want to do something similar again? What would they change about the program? Getting answers to these types of questions will be beneficial for both you and your team moving forward.


A well-planned team building event can energize your team, build stronger relationships among team members, and create lasting memories. Through this guide you’ve learned a lot about the steps that go into planning these events, including the all-important follow-up process. Armed with this information, we hope you can plan some amazing events for your teams, and that you continue to improve on them each time. 

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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